The increase of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in animal tissues has been proposed as a mechanism of Pb poisoning through lipid peroxidation or altered eicosanoids metabolism. We have studied fatty acid (FA) composition in liver and brain of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) feeding for three weeks on diets containing combinations of low or high levels of vitamin E (20 or 200 UI/kg) and Pb (0 or 2 g/kg). Saturated FA, n-6 PUFA and total concentrations of FA were higher in livers of Pb-exposed mallards, but not in their brains. The percentage of n-6 PUFA in liver and brain was slightly higher in Pb-exposed mallards. The increase of n-6 PUFA in liver was associated with increased triglycerides and cholesterol in plasma, thus could be in part attributed to feed refusal and fat mobilization. The hepatic ratios between adrenic acid (22:4 n-6) and arachidonic acid (20:4 n-6) or between adrenic acid and linoleic acid (18:2 n-6) were higher in Pb exposed birds, supporting the existing hypothesis of increased fatty acid elongation by Pb. Among the possible consequences of increased n-6 PUFA concentration in tissues, we found increased lipid peroxidation in liver without important histopathological changes, and decreased plasma alkaline phosphatase activity that may reflect altered bone metabolism in birds.
Additional publication details
Relation of fatty acid composition in lead-exposed mallards to fat mobilization, lipid peroxidation and alkaline phosphatase activity